Describing Guyana’s rainforest as one of the best in the world that can be leveraged, former British Prime Minister, Sir Tony Blair, today said he believes that there must be balance between development and the protection of the country’s environment, even as he hailed Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
The former British Prime Minister arrived in the country on Monday night for a two-day visit.
During a sit-down conversation at the University of Guyana with President Irfaan Ali, Mr. Blair said although the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy has worked over the years, there is still some room for its development.
He added that with the major environment conference-COP 28- approaching, Guyana will be a major player with a major voice.
Blair said the interest which is expected to be shown in Guyana by major countries would be enormous and Guyana must use the opportunity to not only talk about its environmental prowess, but to also send a message that in the face of development, the protection of the country’s environment remains paramount.
“We need to develop a Low Carbon Development Strategy that allows the protection of the rain forest to be fully recognized because here there have been extraordinary efforts to preserve it but we are aware that elsewhere that has not happened, and it has partly not happened because people felt that there is a clash between the interest of development and the protection of the environment and we have to create a mechanism for that contrast, do you develop or do you protect the environment,” Mr. Blair pointed out.
But in this process Mr. Blair said the education of the people needs to be of dramatic importance, since the country is developing rapidly.
The former Prime Minister noted that education, or the lack of education of the country’s environment, could be the difference between the Guyana’s success and failure in the future.
“So, I think Guyana because of the enormous opportunity and the consequent challenge and the way the government is approaching it, which is very careful and deliberate and learning the lessons of similar countries that have been through these types of process and how they avoid the errors and embrace the successes. I think Guyana is going to be one of the most exciting places on the planet to be in the next few years,” Blair noted.
President Ali, during the question-and-answer segment of the event, assured that Guyana is committed to preserving its rainforest and protecting its environment.
The President said Guyana’s priority towards protecting the environment is part and parcel of its global responsibilities.
“But if you have a country with a standing forest and there is no market for that forest, the people in that country still have to eat and still requires development, then what decision confronts the people of that country? So, what s very critical, and the IMF said it that for us to achieve the transition we want in energy and for us to achieve the shift in development focus, the carbon price now should be US$70 per ton,” the President said.
The President also said that it must not be forgotten that the development of the country’s resources will be to the benefit of its people, referring to the sale of carbon credits.
He said even if there are risks, those risks would not be greater than the rewards.
Guyana is expected to play a major role at the international climate conference later this year in Dubai.